Try Gardening a Little

We’ve Got the Fun on Miniature Gardening


April 2020 Issue
by Meredith M. Deal & Elizabeth Skenes Millen
photography by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

Taking her love of gardening to another small, but significant level, Elizabeth Millen, our publisher, recently experienced a fun afternoon learning all about miniature gardening from the ACE Garden’s “miniature and all things gardening” expert Freda Tawney. ACE Garden Center is located in St. Simon’s Island, where Pink’s sister magazine, Paisley, is located. Elizabeth created her own miniature garden, and it has brought her great joy.

Stoking whimsical creativeness, miniature gardening has gained great popularity. There is an abundance of mini-garden creatures, characters (think tiny yard art) adorable cast trees and shrubs, reflecting balls, castles, huts, fairies of all sizes, as well as all shapes and sizes of containers, vessels, bowls, drawers, hanging containers, light and heavy pots to choose from out there in the gardening world. Add potting soil, rocks, gravel, sand and moss in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes and it’s a garden—a very joyful garden each with a story to tell.

Elizabeth’s garden was built from a small gnome using a book as a tent. An avid reader, Elizabeth was immediately drawn to the little guy. “This is it. The book is a tent. I want to create a wisdom garden where he is the mayor,” she said. From there, she began picking out other little creatures to dwell in the miniature wisdom garden. Freda joined in the fun, creating a story for each character added to the plot.

Selecting a theme helped Elizabeth select her garden dwellers:MiniatureGardening0420 2
>> three hootie owls—all very wise
>> a reading chair (comfy place with cup of tea and stack of books)
>> shade tree (live fern)
>> open book covering a library gnome
>> a lantern to illuminate and enlighten
>> critters: a green humpback turtle and a toad

Next, Elizabeth spied a stack of container drawers and selected a 15”x 10”x 5” library card catalog drawer with a liner—perfect!

“I love gardening, flowers and plants, especially in the spring with all the beautiful colors, and this reminiscing experience is an opportunity to take gardening one step further. It’s kind of like a little playhouse—so whimsical, fantastical, colorful; it just adds joy,” Elizabeth smiled. “I was all over the place trying to select my garden critters until I saw this little fellow covered up in a book. When I saw him, I knew I wanted to create a natural live plant wisdom garden that featured one of my favorite things—books! Maybe I will put a wisdom quote of the month in it. It will be a fun conversation piece.”

Freda explained the fun of miniature gardening. “This is a natural way to express yourself and get in touch with your creative side, while digging in the dirt. Miniature gardens are an escape into a fantasy world, while staying grounded in gardening.” Freda shared her expertise as she guided Elizabeth through a four-step process. Let’s plant and populate Elizabeth’s wisdom garden:

Selecting a theme helped Elizabeth select her garden dwellers:

1) Rocks in the bottom for drainage (any rocks or shells) bark, broken pots, charcoal, mulch—anything you want, but rocks will keep the garden stable.

Add the dirt. Potting soil is best for regular plants. About 2-3 inches covered Elizabeth’s garden as she added a little more dirt raising her garden scene up a little more.

Next, Elizabeth went looking around the garden center for live little plants—what fun! A miniature fern (which became Elizabeth's tree of knowledge), little variegated peperomia, and a mini wandering Jew plant would work nicely with Freda’s water feature idea—the pond.  

Elizabeth’s layout included a walking path of natural white sand, which led from the pond to the thinking chair, igniting her imagination even more.

The turtle needed a special spot by the pond. Freda used her fingers to etch the shape, leaving space for the nearby mini-fern and 3 to 4 small river rocks, which created a symmetrical viewing platform for her book fellow. Dug-out excess soil was replaced with bright blue gravel, representing water.

Elizabeth massaged each little plant’s roots before planting. The variegated peperomia became the center focus. We all admired how her garden was beginning to take its final form. Elizabeth’s creative spark helped her to place a little more gravel under her critters, strategically placing them and the wandering Jew plant set to cascade over the garden’s edge.  

4) All was set in place before tapping in pieces of designer green grassy moss around the garden floor. Freda likes to break the moss up and set it in as a last step. Elizabeth, totally now in landscape design “heaven,” finished mossing while adding a little more gravel fill-in.
Now Elizabeth’s wisdom garden has a story to share and tell. And over the months and years, she can add her own charms and tokens. Oops—one more step:

Misting time:  A spray bottle for misting is a necessity. Freda instructed Elizabeth to mist a few seconds and, “Then leave it alone! Get right close to it and spritz each plant three times every two to three days. That’s all you need.”

Final Creative Musings: 
Elizabeth beamed, “I created something! Anytime you do something new, there’s fear you might not get it right. But this is cool with no right or wrong. I’m leaving with this beautiful creation, my garden of wisdom. It reflects who I am—something I’ve been on a roll about—to surround myself with things that are totally me, and this garden is a representation of that.”

Now, it's your turn!
Get out, play a little and make your very own miniature garden!

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